In the chaotic world of college football, it is refreshing to know how quickly things can change. Of course, the dominant teams always find a way to be successful. This includes teams like Alabama, LSU, and Ohio State, yet every year college football finds a way to shake it up. Look at Auburn and Oregon for example. Both started the season as playoff contenders, now looking at possibly missing the chance to go to a bowl game. Consider Memphis and Temple, two teams who have risen from the ashes of the Big East (now the AAC) to take their own swing at the playoff. This Saturday, two teams on opposing ends of that spectrum face off in Nippert Stadium when the Cincinnati Bearcats play the UCF Golden Knights. Following is an idea of key matchups to look out for on game day.
Tommy Tuberville vs. Danny Barrett
Before the sudden announcement of retirement came for former UCF Head Coach George O'Leary, this was a coaching matchup that would have been more entertaining that anything on the field. Two programs that have battled quite a bit these past couple of years are usually competing for a conference championship, but the Cincinnati Bearcats will have to see what UCF Interim Head Coach Danny Barrett can bring to the table Saturday afternoon. Barrett, an alumnus of Cincinnati, will have the distinct pleasure of attempting to defeat his former school in his debut for UCF. Things may be starting to look better and better for the Bearcats, but they shouldn't expect Barrett to lead this team with a lump in his stomach. He spent time as an Interim Head Coach at Buffalo in 2008 and coached them to a MAC Championship. Though he may not be fresh meat, Barrett still does not rank nearly as highly as Tuberville in terms of coaching prestige.
Gunner Kiel vs. Justin Holman
Two quarterbacks that have had their own injury problems this year come into this matchup on different points on the spectrum. Justin Holman has less than a thousand passing yards for the season and double the interceptions compared to touchdowns this season. Gunner Kiel has seemed to find his rhythm coming off of his injuries earlier this year, as he passed for 327 yards and two touchdowns against the University of Connecticut. Though Kiel may have much better offense weapons at his disposal, Holman has shown himself as a player who has taken a step back this year with his lack of offense consistency and decision-making. Look for a shootout between the two of them, and look for Kiel to come out on top.
Offense vs. Offense
Though they are completely winless thus far this season, the UCF defense is nearly identical in statistical production as that of Cincinnati's. The Golden Knights only give up about 30 yards and four points a game more than the Bearcats. Yet, there is still a large glaring point of difference between the two teams. Cincinnati averages over DOUBLE the yards per game offensively as UCF, posting 555.6 yards a game to 257.6 yards a game. This one will more than likely be another offensive explosion game for both teams where each quarterbacks' numbers look like something on a video game. But the Bearcats' guns are bigger and UCF doesn't have the firepower to keep up.
Prediction: UCF 24, Cincinnati 45